One summer morning, when I was eight years old and my brother was six, the two of us found a butterfly while playing in the cornfield outside our house. It stood out like a snowflake against the ears of corn, pure white like a dove. We each took one look at the tiny creature and filled with longing.
“I saw it first,” my brother proclaimed.
“No, I did,” I replied.
I pulled out an empty tin of mints from my pocket and ran after the prize, hoping to capture it for our mother. I could already see her face light up with delight once she saw my gift. But my brother had other plans.
“It’s mine!” he shouted, sprinting after me through the field. But the butterfly was just within my reach. I could almost pet it when suddenly something came into my path and sent me tumbling to the ground. A stray branch. I heard my brother snicker under his breath and got back onto my feet just in time to watch him to dive for the butterfly with cupped hands.
In one swift, effortless move he captured the trophy, holding it up with a grin before sprinting back towards the house. Something about the smugness of the gesture, the grin on his face, the mischief in his eye, set me aflame. I reached down to the ground, grabbed a small rock and threw it at this back. The hit was just enough to knock the creature out of his hands. We watched as the butterfly burst out from his grasp disappeared into the sky.
“Look what you made me do!” he shrieked.
Knowing very well what was coming, I sprinted in the opposite direction. Fight or flight kicked in.
Then a small speck of white floated down from the sky and onto an ear of corn. I stopped in my tracks, my brother coming to a halt at my side. We looked at the butterfly, then at each other, then at the butterfly again.
I reached for it first, grabbing it by a wing so hard it tore right down the middle.
“You’re ripping it!” My brother shouted.
As the butterfly tried to flee my grasp, my brother grabbed it back, plucking out one of its antennae in the process.
“Give it back!” I yelled.
Back and forth and back and forth we pulled at the butterfly, plucking at it until all that was left was bits and pieces. The two of us stopped and watched as its body floated to the ground, mangled and crooked and stripped of its wings. It offered a few pitiful twitches before growing still.
“Great,” my brother said. “Now none of us can have it.”
He kicked some dirt over the butchered creature and headed back towards the house. What a shame, I thought. Such an ugly burial for something so beautiful.